Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dealing with Piracy

In the wake of the tragic murders of two American couples aboard their hijacked yacht at the hands of Somali pirates an article at Strategy Page caught my eye. The piece describes some of the quiet measures shipping companies are taking to protect their vessels and crews from these predators:
As Somali pirates move farther from the coast (using stolen fishing vessels as mother ships), most shipping in the Indian Ocean is at risk of attack. In response, more ships are putting armed guards on board, even though this practice risks running into laws barring firearms on merchant ships entering their ports or territorial waters. Recently, the ICS (International Chamber of Shipping), a trade organization representing 80 percent of all shipping companies, urged its members to put armed guards on ships moving through pirate infested waters. This now includes most of the Indian Ocean between India and Africa. There are problems with this, beyond gun restrictions. Some countries forbid ships flying their flag from carrying armed guards.

None of this has stopped several private security companies from offering armed guards for ships. The security companies operate from countries that allow them (sometimes after payment of bribes) to have military grade weapons. The security teams sometimes travel unarmed to a port where they can pick up their weapons, and board the ship they are guarding. That works because some shipping companies are carrying rifles and machine-guns on board, but keeping them hidden from port and cargo inspectors.

Large merchant ships have lots of places to hide things like a dozen rifles and pistols and a few thousands rounds of ammo. Other security companies will send out a small ship with the armed men on board, and transfer them to the merchant ship in international waters. In short, no one wants to talk openly about how this security business operates. But there's a growing demand, and no shortage of security companies willing to fill the need.

This makes lawyers for shipping companies nervous, because of the risk of innocent fishermen getting shot if they approach a guarded ship in a way that makes the merchant crew nervous....But the shipping companies have reached the point where they would rather handle these lawsuits than more ransom negotiations with pirates.
Piracy in the region has been largely risk-free for the perpetrators for a decade or so. Now the shipping companies are raising the stakes for the pirates. Perhaps this will drive all but the most audacious off of their boats and back to their huts.

Illustrating Political Correctness

Dennis Prager has a very good column on the nature of "political correctness" in our society. Here's his lede:
The most common left-wing objection to the right is that it wants to control others' lives. But, both in America and elsewhere, the threat to personal liberty has emanated far more from the left. In the past generation, the left has controlled so much speech and behavior that these controls are now assumed to be a normal part of life.

Through the use of public opprobrium, laws and lawsuits, Americans today are less free than at any time since the abolition of slavery (with the obvious exception of blacks under Jim Crow).

Public opprobrium is known as political correctness, and it has suppressed saying anything -- no matter how true and no matter how innocent -- that offends left-wing sensibilities.
This is followed in the column with a dozen or so examples of how this suppression plays out in the culture. It's pretty good and worth a read.

More on Single Parenthood

The post titled "Nobody Gets Married Anymore, Mister" continues to attract thoughtful comment. Here's an example from a reader named Mike:
I am a Christian, and therefore hold to the traditional idea that sex and child rearing are intended exclusively for marriage. I have been married for almost 15 years, and my wife and I have five children. In our experience, the traditional Christian conviction of sex and parenthood only within marriage has shown itself to be true on a number of different points. One of the most important has been the well-being of our children.

All of my four school-age children attend public schools. The oldest is twelve and has recently become aware of, and been troubled by, the very unstable family lives of his friends. Some are in single-parent homes. Some have moms and dads living with boyfriends and girlfriends. Some have parents who are in the process of getting divorced. If I had not understood before I was married why marriage is so important for bringing up children, I certainly do now.

In such a churning sea of dysfunction and relational uncertainty, it is an anchor of assurance and stability to my children that they know their parents are committed to each other, for better or for worse, in sickness and health, for good times and bad, as husband and wife, till death do us part. Commitment necessarily means the elimination of certain options. Marriage commitment should mean that divorce is not an option (thus "'till death do you part"). The fact that my wife are committed to each other in this way is communicated to my children by the fact that we are married.

I have never understood a legitimate reason why a couple who is logistically and financially able to get married would choose not to. It has always seemed to me that making the choice to live together and even to have children without being married is for each person in the relationship to communicate the following to the other:

"I have strong feelings for you, and enjoy your company. I'm sexually attracted to you and want us to be sexually involved with each other. My feelings are so strong for you that I would even like for us to have a child together. But ultimately my commitment to you is based on how you make me feel. Though I don't necessarily want it to happen, I realize there may come a time in the future when my feelings for you will fluctuate, and because those feelings are the basis of our relationship, it would be good if we are able to part ways at that time without too many strings attached. So let's not make trouble for ourselves in the future by becoming husband and wife now and taking on all the potential legal burdens. I do love you, but ultimately you're not worth banking my entire future on."

I'm not saying that this is what's in the minds of all unwed parent/couples, but I do have a hard time seeing anything but this, or something like it, at work in the decision making of couples who intentionally choose not to get married. What am I missing?
Thoughts? Is Mike missing anything?